As part of the NHL's celebration of Black History Month, NHL.com will highlight great moments and important figures in black hockey history each day throughout February. Pioneers like Willie O'Ree, Angela James and Grant Fuhr will be featured.
Today we look at Donald Brashear, the first black player born in the United States to play 1,000 NHL games.
Donald Brashear took the long route to becoming the first black player born in the United States to play in 1,000 NHL games.
Brashear was born in Bedford, Indiana, but moved to Quebec as a child. He played for Longueuil and Verdun in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before signing with the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent July 28, 1992. The forward had 66 points (38 goals, 28 assists) in 62 games for Fredericton, Montreal's affiliate in the American Hockey League, in 1993-94, earning a 14-game call-up by the Canadiens.
By 1995-96, he was a full-time NHL player. He had his best offensive season after being traded to the Vancouver Canucks on Nov. 13, 1996, reaching double figures in goals (11) for the only time in his NHL career in 1999-2000 while providing protection for the Canucks' stilled players and becoming a fan favorite.
He was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 17, 2001, signed with the Washington Capitals as a free agent July 14, 2006, and joined the New York Rangers as a free agent July 1, 2009. He became the first U.S.-born black player to play in 1,000 NHL games when he played for the Rangers against the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 12, 2009.
His NHL career ended after the 2009-10 season when the Rangers traded him to the Thrashers, who bought out the rest of his contract. He finished with 205 points (85 goals, 120 assists) and 2,634 penalty minutes in 1,025 games. Brashear played four seasons in the North American Hockey League and one in Sweden before retiring from hockey after the 2014-15 season.